Quite the interesting convo on this morning's AM Joy regarding exactly when did Donald Trump become a secret agent of Putin's empire? They were only half kidding.
The panel included Naveed Jumali, who has worked as a covert agent inside Russia:
NAVEED JUMALI: I think the biggest difference between the United States and Russia, in Russia, the Cold War never ended. They view us as their enemy. So when you look at Russia and decipher what they're doing, they look at it through the prism of how can they hurt us, and hurting them is directly beneficial to them. Now, again, there are -- since Russia opened up, there have been a number of big companies, GE and the like that do business, and Exxon-Mobil that do business in Russia. Clearly, the sanctions have hurt those big companies. So, you know, there is a flip side to this, which is, you know, as we're seeing the sanctions which are meant -- and this is always the case with sanctions, that are meant to actually hurt the Russians, have actually had a negative impact on American companies. And I think there has been quite a bit of pressure to ease the sanctions so the companies can continue to do business. I think that we can't underestimate the fact that Russia really sees us as their enemy. You were mentioning before about the bromance between Putin and Trump, I think Mr. Trump is going to realize very quickly that Putin doesn't care about Trump. He's actually interested in hurting the United States. That's his end game.
JOY ANN REID: And that is something you talk about a lot. This is for Putin, a game in which he intends to beat the United States, not become friends with the United States. There was a report this week that Voice of America could turn into a Putin-like media outlet. Trump will inherit a TV network. The danger here is the voice of the United States to the rest of the world, where we typically broadcast sometimes into authoritarian countries in trying to get them objective news, could instead become essentially Breitbart or the voice of Donald Trump. How dangerous would that be to the United States' ability to have influence in countries that are repressive?
MALCOLM VANCE: It would be essentially dangerous. But with Voice of America. I don't think Donald Trump would -- I'm not sure he has heard of Voice of America. That's not a joke. Let's not laugh at it. It's actually scary. But for the most part, if he finds out that he can have his own version of Russia Today, his own version of Sputnik, two propaganda arms that took over from the Soviet Union, it could be exceptionally damaging. But I want to come to a point that was made a little bit earlier. When did all of this happen to Donald Trump, right? He met Gorbachev. He was a big supporter of Glasnost. At some point, he was co-opted by Vladimir Putin. And that means he bought into and embraced the dictatorial ideology that was done by a spymaster of the KGB. Ten years ago, 20 years ago, there would be treason trials at this point. I would like to bring one point up. Because long ago there was a guy, Yuri Bezmenov, a KGB officer, and he wrote, "This is who the KGB targeted, egocentric people who are too greedy or suffer from exaggerated self-importance. These are the people KGB wants and finds easiest to recruit." Vladimir Putin went to the school of intelligence, he learned how to manipulate people, and at some point, we need to find out when did Donald Trump's ideology shift from western capitalism to Russian authoritarianism.
REID: This is an important question. Naveed, let me go to you first on that. We know that Donald Trump's family has courted business in Russia, done business in Russia. They sell a lot of condos to Russian nationals. Trump's son, Donald Jr., was quoted in 2008 in saying "we see a lot of money, a lot of money coming for new builds and the Russian economy." Is it the business interest, the greed that could have turned Donald Trump so fully toward mimicking really everything that Putin believes, he believes as well?
JUMALI: Yeah. I think Malcolm is absolutely right. That clearly, you know, the oligarch model that emerged with Putin is something that I think Donald Trump was fascinated by, and clearly wanted to emulate. So while I don't know if there is a direct correlation to say that Putin is actually running or controlling him as a puppet, I think that Donald Trump was clearly enamored with the wealth -- Putin is the wealthiest man in the world, by far. I think the simple wealth that emerged of the oligarchs are something that Donald Trump really wanted to get a taste of, and I think that as a result, is very possible as Malcolm is suggesting that his ideology shifted, not so much in terms of communism or pro Russianism, but this concept of what can, what could I do to become an oligarch? And I think I'm not so sure that Trump thought he was going to win the election. But he clearly looked at this and said even if I don't win there is a way to ingratiate myself with the Russians.
REID: Same thing to you, Sara Kendzior. Is he emulating Trump, Putin or trying to become extravagantly wealthy in the way that Putin did?
SARA KENDZIOR: I think those two things are very similar. I think he is trying to emulate him and I think Putin is extravagantly wealthy, estimated to be worth $200 billion, by some accounts. One other similarity we should note, we don't know precisely what Putin is worth. He hides this money through friends, cronies, offshore accounts. And there is a similar phenomenon going on with Trump. We don't know how much money Trump has. We don't know what his tax returns are. We don't know who he owes money to. We don't know whether he's trying to make greater profit or pay off debt and using foreign connections with Russia as a method to do that and perhaps that's part of how he became compromised. And so that's the kind of thing that I think really needs to be addressed and in a nonpartisan congressional investigation of these ties. We need to see -- it seems we're moving the direction of kleptocracy. Cabinet appointments, including the Secretary of State, indicate we're moving to a kleptocracy, something that benefits Russia. All these things really need to be straightened out and investigated thoroughly now before he takes office in late January.
Congressional investigation? You mean by Jason Chaffetz? Really.
The question is not is Trump a crook, we know the answer to that. The question is what the Speaker of the House and the Majority Leader of the Senate are going to do about it. Will they put party before country? ya think?
We are entering very dangerous times, folks. And the Republican Party is putting party before US interests and our Constitutional protections against foreign intervention, again and again and again.